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tv   Weather World  BBC News  December 27, 2016 9:30am-10:01am GMT

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this time on weather world we are going up in the world, literally into the mountains of north wales, and our method of transport may surprise you, it is going to be quite a ride. also on weather world. extreme storms and the battle to survive them, as global temperatures set new records. winterfights back in the usa, but not in the arctic. it is still not cold enough on top of the world. plus, wild winds, how not to get caught out in extreme weather. i will be here at the oare marshes nature reserve in kent, taking a look at how the weather impacts migratory birds, from a quiet blue sky day here in kent to the hazards of a hurricane in the atlantic. and why everything in this welsh field is not as it seems. the new type of sheep and what it can tell us about the weather. welcome to weather world.
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this time we are in the north wales, in snowdonia, about to climb wales‘ highest peak, mount snowdon. now i am up for a bit of climbing, i am a fairly fit guy, dressed for the part, but i have got an easier option in mind. we are about to take a ride on the historic snowdon mountain railway. if you know anything about this part of the world, you will know that this railway is actually closed in the winter. but i have got a special ride lined up on an engineer's train, because i'm going to find out how this railway copes with the harsh mountain weather. all aboard! when you're ready, dewi! this railway has been taking people to the summit of mount snowdon since 1896. an estimated 12 million people have
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made thatjourney since then. the trains normally run from mid—march until november, but it is the weather that dictates the schedule, and the toll the weather takes on the mountain railway means for the maintenance teams, winter is the busiest time of year. mike, you are the senior engineering manager of the railway here, and already we are getting a sense of the climb we have started. yes, the railway follows the mountain. the maximum gradient is one in 5.5, we havejust come up one in 6.2, it alters as we go over the terrain, but it is a steep railway. and we're going... 4.95 mph. yes. mountain railway and weather. the two must clash a little bit. they do. obviously, wind, rain, snow, they all impact on our maintenance activities throughout the year. what is the worst element? in the operating season? wind.
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we have wind limits for operating trains. and in the winter it is heavy rain on the lower mountain, and snow on the upper reaches. so you are doing a lot of maintenance. i will see some of that take place and hopefully get stuck in myself as well. the more, the merrier. looking forward to it! winter has arrived in snowdonia, but there is no doubt that the main weather story of 2016 has been heat. record heat. hurricane matthew slams into haiti in october, killing hundreds as it cuts a path from here to the south—east united states. a massive storm, fuelled by warmer—than—average ocean water. in the pacific, in september, taiwan feels the force of typhoon meranti the strongest since haiyan in 2013. in october, in south korea, cars are swept down flooded streets in the strongest cyclone there in four years. rescues in spain, in december,
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animal and human, as torrential downpours lead to flash flooding. but in south america, rivers run dry. not enough rain has caused bolivia to declare a state of emergency, facing its worst drought in 25 years. israel, in november, fighting the flames, as a two—month drought and arson leads to wildfires. australia, and beach—goers in melbourne struggle against strong winds whipped up by approaching thunderstorms. several people died from rare thunderstorm asthma in november, after suffering breathing problems from pollen carried by the wind. in the uk, the first named storm of the autumn, angus, struck in november. winds in the irish sea were so strong that this ferry was stuck there overnight until it was safe enough to dock. not ideal if it is
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your maiden voyage. my first time on a boat. we were on there 24 hours. just a bad experience. i won't be doing it again, i think. i was sick the whole way. you know when you're sleeping? it was lumpy and it made you feel sick. but the night! i am glad i am off. it is impossible to link one whether extreme to a warming world but scientists say that extreme events become more likely and well before the end of 2016, the year was labelled as odds—on to become the warmest on record. we have just stepped off the train to see the first piece of work happening on the line. mike, what are you doing here? this is waterfall halt, a storage facility for tools, equipment for the railway. to make it safe we are building a platform and a storage area on the left, and another platform on the right—hand side. and this all needs to happen fairly quickly, doesn't it? because you have time and weather to think about. we are open again in march, and we cannot have any work on the operational
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railway from march. it is obviously quite mild at the moment but we have had freezing temperatures and we cannot lay concrete in freezing temperatures. when it's heavy rain, it'll wash everything out. can i get stuck in? by all means, nigel needs a hand. ok, let's go and find him. ok, nigel, what do you want me to do? if you just grab hold of that one there, please, mate, and over the top there... that way? that way round. i had it upside down! that's a good start. while i try to get the hang of cement work, sarah keith—lucas looks back at the 2016 atlantic hurricane season. here i am at the oare marches nature reserve near faversham in kent. it is a great spot for capturing a glimpse of these wintering birds that are just settling into their home now for the winter season. later in the programme, we will have more analysis about how the weather impacts these migratory birds. earlier this year, there was some
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incredible radar footage of some birds that appeared to be trapped right inside the eye of hurricane matthew. hurricane matthew was of course the strongest and the most deadly storm of the season. it initially formed off the west coast of africa before moving across the atlantic and strengthening, for a time, to a major, category five hurricane in the caribbean. it has been a particularly active hurricane season again this year, partly down to the declining el nino effect and the transition to more neutral conditions in the pacific. so let's take a look at how the el nino southern oscillation, or enso, has affected this year's hurricane season, and why it has been so intense, especially compared to recent years. in the year up to may 2016, the enso was in the el nino, or warm, phase. the warming of the equatorial pacific often leads to stronger vertical wind shear in the atlantic. wind shear refers to the changing wind speed, and/or direction, with height in the atmosphere.
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stronger wind shear leads to weaker hurricanes and makes landfall less likely. however, since may, the pacific has been cooling, becoming more neutral, and is now entering a weak phase la nina, or cool, phase, reducing the wind shear and hence promoting stronger and more frequent hurricanes. another major factor in the summer was a big blocking area of high pressure, feeding warm and moist air over the western atlantic and warming the waters there by as much as four or five degrees compared to the average. these warmer waters have provided the fuel to power the huge, formidable hurricanes that have formed in the region this year. so the very active hurricane season of 2016 has now come an end. join me later in the programme, where we will take a more detailed look at some of these migratory birds and just how the weather affects their journeys. this railway carries more than 130,000 passengers a year
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towards snowdon's summit. but some people get there the hard way — on foot. however you choose to go high, you need to respect the weather and be fully prepared. climbers battled fierce winds in the scottish highlands, in footage released to showjust how wild the weather can get. this high, this exposed, it is too late to simply turn back. we have just stepped away from the railway and this is snowdon's peak. now i'm here in one of the snowdonia park warden's offices at penny pass. you are one of the wardens, rhys wheldon roberts, and you are going to show me exactly what i need to be fully prepared to attack a hill or a mountain. so you know, mountains are quite cold, so you need warm layers, preferably a base layer first, then a mid—layer, something like a fleece, maybe even two, if it is quite cold, and some comfortable, warm trousers as well. i have gotjeans on. they are not necessarily
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the right thing, are they? not the best, they get quite cold when they are wet and they are really uncomfortable, so something that will keep you warm when you are wet is preferable. ok, what else? you also need waterproof layers. jacket, trousers, i would also take some hats and gloves with mejust in case they get wet. good idea, the right footwear? in summer, you would have those boots, at the end there, just generic walking boots. and these? and these are winter boots, they have a much stiffer sole. they can support crampons as well which gives you more grip on the ice. they are am essential bit of kit for any snow on the mountain. and if it is very snowy i would need one of these? another essential piece of kit. an ice axe. it provides some sort of support walking up the mountain and if you slip, it can help stop you. i want to know where i'm going, but i am ok because i have one of those lovely maps on my phone. they are a start, but you want a proper map and a compass like this. a phone can run out of battery
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or signal and become useless. that will never fail you. and it sounds obvious, but you need something to eat and drink on the way. fuel is very important, so make sure you pack your lunch and maybe your dinner, and some warm drinks if it is cold. and check the weather forecast. it sounds obvious but the weather at the top of the mountain is often very different from the weather when you set off. absolutely, yes, here, it can be ten, 15 degrees colder on the mountain than down in the valley. check the mountain forecast as well because it can be very different to the generic forecast. if i come back and climb in snowdonia, i will come and find you as my personal guide, and i promise i will not wear these jeans. ok, brilliant! still to come: fake flock. what electric sheep can tell us about the weather that real sheep can't. captured on camera, by bbc a weather watcher, the building of the queensferry crossing in scotland,
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through the changing seasons. in november, weather watchers celebrated its first anniversary and the number of sky snappers now totals more than 130,000. for many, it is about the beauty of the sky and the scenery around them, and sharing it online. many people just walk along with their heads down, and they don't look up, they don't see the clouds, they don't see the sunrise, the sunsets, the rainbows, and they thank me for that, and i think that is probably the most rewarding thing. and you can become a weather watcher by signing up at bbc weather watchers online. we are taking a look at how the snowdon railway copes with the amount of weather. we've stopped here at the rocky valley platform, it is about two thirds towards the summit, the elevation, about 680 metres. already we are above some of the clouds, and you can tell how
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the weather has changed here. it is colder and windier, and of course, all of the track has to cope with these conditions, the heavy rain, the heavy snow, and of course, the big change in temperatures from one season to the next. further up, mike is taking a look at how this piece of track is faring up. so, mike, how are we doing this? with this instrument here, a measuring trolley, we will put it on the track, amd this is going to tell me the distance between the two rails. it is going to tell me the cross level, the height of one rail to the other, and it is going to tell me the twist and the distance. i guess you're going to wheel it down the track. shall i help you out with that? you can push. ok, thanks. i willjust gently edge it down the track. this is a fairly exposed piece of track so it must get a fair battering. yes, this is one of our sections of track which requires constant maintenance. in the spring, this will have moved, and we will come back and do some more maintenance, lifting and packing. we have moved down this short bit,
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so let's take a look at what you have learned. so this is telling me we've travelled 12.75 metres from where we started, telling me that at this particular point the track gauge is 806.1; millimetres, and it also tells me that i'ave a cross level negative of 4.9 millimetres. that's a slight dip? that's a slight twist to one side. does the track need any work? no, the instrument is telling me it is all within tolerance. that's good news for you. very good. but you never know what else you'll find. i'll let you go and check some more track, mike. thank you very much. we're going to get back on the train and back on the move and just a moment, but before we do that, it has been a cold start to winter here in snowdonia, but in that direction, a long way in that direction, there is a part of the world that should be very cold, but there is a problem. it's not cold enough. the not—so—frozen arctic. the amount of sea ice that survived summer 2016 was the second lowest on record, with autumn regrowth slowed both
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by air temperatures 20 celsius above normal and the warmth of the ocean below. during summertime, when the sun comes up in the arctic, it reflects most of the sun's energy back out to space. if you start removing the reflective sea ice cover, now the ocean absorbs the heat instead. so what you see now as winter comes, the arctic is very warm. part of that is because now the ocean has to release heat again during the summer, back to the atmosphere before the ice can form. the frozen antarctic. records here show sea ice has not suffered to the same degree as its northern counterpart. but even so, national snow and ice data centre scientists say antarctic sea ice shrank to a record november low. a warming world does not mean the end of winter weather. in the usa in december, snow and ice caused damage and brought disruption to millions of people. then there is the occasional wintry surprise, such as here in tokyo, which had its first november
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snowfall in more than half a century. and this, from siberia, what looks like rocks on the shore are thousands of natural snowballs, formed from small pieces of ice rolled ever larger by the wind and water. we saw earlier how to properly dress for the great outdoors, especially, of course, in winter, very important for humans. but you would think sheep, with their woolly coats, would be good to go, whatever the weather. but there is a unique experiment taking place here at the foot of snowdon which proves that they feel the weather, too. just like this one. come on. let's find you a friend. you're a bit heavier than i thought you would be! now, you may have noticed that this is not a real sheep. neither is this one. thankfully, pip jones from bangor university is a real human. why do you have fake sheep here? they might be fake but they tell us a lot about real sheep and the environment they experience
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onafarm. how? ok, so we have two things, we have our sheep, we also have a met station. this met station is measuring sun, plus wind, plus ambient air temperature, and those things together tell us how the sheep is feeling. so on a day like today when it is really windy that must have an impact on how the sheep feels. but how can you tell? absolutely, it's so much colder when the wind blows. that is called wind—chill, and for warm—blooded animals like us and the sheep, maintaining core body temperature in these conditions is increasingly hard as the wind blows. so what we are doing with these sheep is we maintain them at 39 degrees with... this array of heaters here. and we've also got a microcomputer. and what the computer is recording is how much energy the sheep is using to keep that temperature in the prevailing conditions. so we will pop it back in and have a look in a minute to see how much energy she is using.
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now if i was a sheep farmer, what difference does it make to me, this research here? ok, so, forfarmers, farming is essentially all about energy. we record the energy that in, that's the food that the animals eat, but there is also energy out in the equation, and weather is a big part of that. keeping warm in conditions uses an awful lot of energy. can i do something on my farm to help my sheep keep warm? essentially planning your farm with weather in mind. providing shelter the form of trees and hedgerows which the animals can use to take shelter from the wind especially, and that will reduce the energy used to stay warm. and the all—important question is, how much energy has that used in the past few seconds? so in the last few seconds, she has used a 37 watts just to stay warm. and as the wind gets stronger and the air gets colder, there will be more and more energy use. thank you for showing me the project. i have become quite attached to my fake sheep. it must have a name. this is mellin. nice to meet you, mellin. that's weather and sheep. now, weather and birds. here is sarah keith—lucas again. welcome back to the oare marshes nature reserve in kent.
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i'm joined by graham madge of the met office and previously the rspb. so graham, it is a very idyllic and peaceful day in kent. it is hard to imagine some of the hazards that these birds face on their long journeys, including of course the weather. earlier in the year, there was some footage of some birds that appeared to be trapped right inside eye of hurricane matthew. is this a typical kind of hazard that the birds face on their migratoryjourneys? the situation is that they are crossing the path, the exact track, that many hurricanes take, so it's quite likely the birds do get caught up in these weather systems. in fact, we know from bidwatchers‘ records in northern europe that many birds are brought to european shores on the back of these cyclones, as they move up into the north atlantic. so it's a very big threat that these birds face, and it's a very powerful hazard that these birds have to try and cope with om their lives.
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so i have heard some people say that birds can actually forecast the weather. is there any evidence or science behind this? there is a classic phrase, one swallow does not make a summer. i think the evidence for birds being able to forecast the weather is probably quite thin. but what we do know is that birds are affected by the weather, so we all know that we get weather coming from different directions, and that very often can bring birds associated with it. so we get birds from north america turning up in europe, we can get birds from the tropical atlantic, from all sorts of places. so although birds might not be able to forecast the weather, by seeing interesting and exotic birds, it gives you at least an insight into what the weather has been like elsewhere in the northern hemisphere. thank you so much, graham, for joining us. well, that's it from us here in kent, it's back to nick in snowdonia. we've come as far as we can go now on the snowdon railway.
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this is about three—quarters of the way to snowdon summit, but we cannot get any further, because number one, there is essential track work taking place, and if we did go any further we would just encounter snow on the track anyway. but before we start heading back down the mountain there is one more thing i want to show you. it's something that is crucial to the operation of the railway here, and the reason i'm excited is i am a weatherman and i have found a weather station nearly at the top of mount snowdon. mike, how important is this piece of kit for you and the railway? it's crucial. it gives us weather information, specifically wind information, for the operation of the trains. in high winds, we cannot operate. and how do you look at that information, when you are down in the office in llanberis? this weather station beams data through a data link, we can pick this up on our computers down below, and we can get it graphically. and what is that telling you, from a screenshot of something earlier in the day?
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that's giving me the wind direction, the wind speed, the temperatures, and crucially, the gust speeds. because obviously we've got an average speed here, and then we have got the gust speed. the gust speeds can reach in excess of 130mph. talking wind speed like that, the weather station, much as i love it, can't cope with wind that strong. so what are you going to do with it in the winter? we're going to take it down. we don't need that information through the winter. it is purely for the operating season. these instruments have a hard life. we will send them away and get them recalibrated and erect them again in the spring. let's get this weather station to bed then. 0k. as they get to work, and before we go, when is a rainbow not a rainbow? when it is a fog—bow! this rare phenomenon was spotted in scotland in november. water droplets in fog are much smaller than raindrops and as the sun interacts with them, the result appears devoid of colour, or like a white rainbow. still not a rainbow as we know it, but closer, this rare moon—bow
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was spotted in northern england in october, as moonlight, rather than sunlight, interacts with moisture in the atmosphere. and finally, lighting up the sky and our imagination, the super moon, seen around the world in the november, the closest the moon has been to the earth in nearly 70 years. which makes this lucky moment... there you go! an example of picture—perfect timing. and that's it for this time on weather world. from snowdonia, thanks to mike, our driver, dewi, guard steve, and everyone else at the snowdon railway. snowdon summit still awaits me, but i will be back one day. i'll keep checking the forecast. come on, mellin. let's introduce you to your friends. oh, sweetheart.
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i've got a nice little friendly sheep here for you. laughter. got it! good morning. it will be chilly on snowdonia at the moment and notjust snowdonia at the moment and notjust snowdonia either. it is frosty across many parts of england and wales, but for most of the uk, it is going to be dry. i say most because we have got light rain across northern and western scotland. high pressure is in charge of the weather so pressure is in charge of the weather so things fairly settled. hence the clear skies and the frosty conditions across england and wales, but there is more of a breeze in the north and it is in the north—west of scotla nd north and it is in the north—west of scotland and some western areas generally that we're seeing the odd splash of rain, but as we go through the day, we will lose that, although we will see an increase in sirius,
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so we will see an increase in sirius, so the sunshine we have will turn more hazy in nature. so this afternoon across southern counties of england, still very nice. there isafair of england, still very nice. there is a fair bit of sunshine around. it's dry. if you are stepping out though, it will feel a bit on the chilly side. for east anglia, heading over towards the midlands and moving northwards, through the peak district, a lot of sunshine. hazy at times with more cloud across northern england, but you can still expect sunny spells. across scotland, when we lose the showers, again, largely dry. sunshine turning hazier as it will do as we move across northern ireland. temperatures up to between six and eight celsius this afternoon so again, feeling chilly if you're stepping out. for wales, again, feeling chilly if you're stepping out. forwales, it again, feeling chilly if you're stepping out. for wales, it is a very similar story. a lot of dry will around today. some sunshine to boot. now, through the course of the afternoon, those are the kind of temperatures you can expect, sixes and sevens. here and there, we might squeeze out an eight or a nine, but nothing in double figures. under the clear skies, it means that this evening temperatures will drop quickly, we will see frost, but
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we'll also see some fog. the fog is more likely to be widespread than it was last night. dense fog by tomorrow morning. it could lead to some travel disruption. so do keep in touch with the weather forecast. some of this fog tomorrow won't clear at all. some of it willjust lift into clo cloud and if you're stuck under either of the combinations it will feel cold. across southern and western areas, we are looking at sunshine. a bit more cloud at times across scotland and more particularly the north—west where we have this weather front coming in introducing rain. here too, there is more of a squeeze on the isobars as we head into thursday. so no problems with frost 01’ thursday. so no problems with frost orfog, but thursday. so no problems with frost or fog, but further south, thursday. so no problems with frost orfog, but further south, we thursday. so no problems with frost or fog, but further south, we could start on quite a foggy note. so for thursday and friday, there will be more cloud around than we're looking at in the earlier part of this week. temperatures peaking at 11 celsius in belfast on friday, but with the fronts nearby, there will be some rain. this is bbc news.
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i'm richard lister. the headlines at ten: eight out of ten young carers are not receiving the help they need from social services, according to the children's commissioner for england. this is often systematic support for vulnerable family members who may have mental illness or physical disabilities. countering electoral fraud — voters in some parts of england will be asked to show id in pilot schemes. russian crash investigators recover a black box flight recorder from the military aircraft which crashed into the black sea, killing 92 people. the "prevent" anti—extremism programme is defended by leicestershire's chief constable. simon cole describes some of the criticism as "hysterical". tributes to the character actor liz smith who has died at the age of 95.
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